The first-ever fitness industry advocacy event planned for Washington, D.C., by the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association has been postponed from its early March date to late September.
With the date coming fast, a key legislative representative in the association's office recently leaving to work for a law firm, management changes at the SGMA, and the new administration and changing Congress, the SGMA made a decision in early February to postpone the "Fly In for Fitness" event.
The event is now set for Sept. 20-21. It had been announced in early December as March 1-2 (See SNEWSÂ® story, Nov. 29, 2004, "SGMA plans fitness advocacy event in D.C."). Word of the change is now being sent to all potential manufacturing and retailer attendees.
"We want to make it an event that is meaningful to the industry and one upon which we can continue to build," said Kevin Lamar, president of Lamar Health, Fitness & Sports, and an SGMA board member who was helping put together a panel for the event as a moderator. "We want to do it and we want to do it right. It was best for the SGMA to postpone it."
Gregg Hartley, SGMA vice president, said that the normal spring timing for many lobbying events is not as critical to this one since fitness and physical activity issues are part of an ongoing debate and not necessarily key to any one debate hitting a crescendo this spring. In fact, September offers the chance to offer commentary on key debates that will affect the 2007 budget.
"Timing is not hyper-critical at this event," Hartley said, "especially being the first one."
The Fly-In will focus purely on the broader fitness industry, including manufacturers and retailers. Other industries have had such events in the past during the busy spring lobbying season in Washington, D.C., which have included broader fitness issues. They included SGMA and PE4Life's "National PE Day" in late April or early May, which has also attracted fitness leaders, for example from Strive Smart Strength (see SNEWSÂ® story, May 12, 2004, "PE Day lobbying puts fitness on legislative forefront"), and IHRSA's "Legislative Summit," normally in May (see SNEWSÂ® story, May 26, 2004, "IHRSA lobbyists position clubs as solution to obesity crisis"), which suppliers Matrix and Precor have attended. Although both events touch on fitness and its importance, each also has its own agenda related to specific goals: The National PE Day focuses on the importance of daily PE in schools, while the Legislative Summit spends its time talking to club leaders and to legislators about bills and issues that benefit for-profit clubs.
Attendees had already been confirmed from the likes of Lamar, Icon, Paramount and Star Trac. Hartley said the first day would focus on educational panels and discussions, with the second day focusing on lobbying on "The Hill" by attendees.
Topics already planned included a discussion on manufacturers' issues such as liability and tariffs, another one creative programming, and one looking at public policy with the possibility for attendees to not only hear what's happening but also take part in brainstorming. Another panel would focus on international expansion trends in fitness.
When the September event nears, additional announcements will be made with more details. Meanwhile, go to www.sgma.com/flyin.